18 Best Credit Cards to Use in Europe in 2018

18 Best Credit Cards to Use in Europe in 2018

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Updated: November 13, 2018
Opinions expressed here are ours alone, and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by any issuer. Site may be compensated through the issuer affiliate programs.

Steeped in history, culture, and cuisine, Europe is a top destination for millions of vacationers every year, with plenty of Americans taking the long trip over the pond to explore what the continent has to offer.

But when even a domestic vacation can easily cost hundreds of dollars, a transcontinental adventure is likely to have a four-digit price tag. Luckily, there may be some things you can do to keep your trip on budget.

For example, you can save on fees and earn rewards on nearly every aspect of your European vacation simply by being smart about which credit cards you use.

No Foreign Transaction Fees | Chip & PIN | Travel | Dining | Entertainment | Business

Best “No Foreign Transaction Fee” Cards to Use in Europe

One of the most important fees to watch out for while traveling abroad are foreign transaction fees. Many credit cards charge foreign transaction fees on purchases made in a foreign currency to offset the cost of exchanging the currency from US dollars to the purchase currency.

That being said, there are a good number of credit cards that charge no foreign transaction fees, including many of the most popular travel rewards cards, and you can earn rewards regardless of the currency in which you make purchases.

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

The miles earned with your Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card can be redeemed for statement credit to cover a range of travel-related purchases made with your card, a category that includes most transportation from airlines to railways, hotel stays, travel agencies, and even timeshares.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns the popular Ultimate Rewards® points, which are lauded for their redemption flexibility and high per-point potential value. Earn 2X points per dollar on travel and dining, one point on everything else, and pay no foreign transaction fees for any of it.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 14.74%-24.74% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 14.74%-24.74% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card is a straightforward unlimited cash back card that offers 1.5% cash back on every purchase, regardless of its category. With no foreign transaction fees, the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card can be good for your vacation expenses that don’t fall into bonus categories.

Best “Chip & PIN” Cards to Use in Europe

Although EMV-chip credit cards have become the standard in most of the world, the chip cards in the UK and US vary in one key way: how they’re authenticated. In the US, we use a signature to authorize purchases (though even that’s being phased out).

However, in Europe, most credit card transactions are authenticated via a four-digit PIN, similar to US debit cards. While your US EMV card can be used for most European merchants, certain unattended kiosks, such as ticket machines and parking garages, will typically require a card with chip-and-PIN capability.

Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® Review

at Barclays'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Enjoy 60,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase
  • Book travel your way—no airline, seat or hotel restrictions—and redeem your miles for travel statement credits
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • International Chip and PIN for use at self-service chip terminals around the world
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
0% intro for first 12 billing cycles following each BT that posts within 45 days of account opening
17.99%, 21.99% or 24.99% variable based on your creditworthiness
$89 (waived first year)
Good/Excellent

In addition to full chip-and-PIN functionality, this card offers unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, no foreign transaction fees, and the chance to earn a big signup bonus.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card Review

at Bank of America'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  • 25,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days — that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want — you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles
N/A
16.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

The chip-and-PIN enabled Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card earns an unlimited 1.5X points per dollar spent on all purchases, with no foreign transaction fees. Points can be redeemed for a huge range of travel-related purchases, including the basics, such as flights and hotels, as well as things like select tourist attractions.

Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® Review

at Barclays'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★
4.3

OVERALL RATING

4.3/5.0
  • Enjoy a 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable 13.99% APR will apply
  • Low 13.99% variable APR on purchases and cash advances
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • International Chip and PIN
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
See Terms
13.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

The Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® doesn’t offer purchase rewards or a signup bonus, but it also doesn’t charge a lot of crazy fees. The card charges no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and has a low 13.99% Variable APR — all while offering chip-and-PIN support abroad.

Best “Travel Rewards” Cards to Use in Europe

Although there are certainly some deals to be had if you’re flexible about when you take your trip, it’s safe to say that travel expenses will likely be the bulk of the cost of your European escape.

Happily, with a good travel rewards credit card, you can start saving up points or miles for your vacation well before you book your trip, potentially eliminating the cost of transportation and/or accommodations with smart redemptions. Plus, earn more points for your taxi rides and rail tickets as you explore your destination.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
$450
Good/Excellent

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is by and large one of the most popular travel cards on the market. Not only does it earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards® points on travel purchases, it also offers airport lounge access, an annual travel credit, trip cancellation/delay insurance, and a host of other potentially valuable travel perks.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

While the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has a much lower annual fee than its big sibling, it also earns fewer points, only offering 2X Ultimate Rewards® points per dollar on travel. It also doesn’t come with the travel credit or lounge access, though it does share the trip cancellation and lost baggage insurance.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card not only offers unlimited 2X miles per dollar spent on travel-related purchases, but it also provides 10X miles per dollar spent on hotel stays purchased through hotels.com/venture.

Best “Dining Rewards” Cards to Use in Europe

No matter where we are, food is usually a significant part of the budget. But that number is likely to skyrocket when you head off on a European vacation, especially when most of us spend our vacations in hotel rooms sans kitchens.

Of course, given that many of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations also happen to be hailed for their culinary delights, few of us would likely cook even with a kitchen. Happily, you can explore the tastes of Europe and earn rewards with these dining rewards credit cards.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
$450
Good/Excellent

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers 3X Ultimate Rewards® points for qualifying dining purchases, a broad category that includes sit-down, fast food, and fine dining establishments. And since the card charges no foreign transaction fees, you can swipe without worry regardless of the currency.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers many of the same perks as its big sibling, including no foreign transaction fees, but at a fraction of the cost with only a $95 annual fee. That lower fee may mean fewer rewards, however, as you’ll only earn 2X Ultimate Rewards® points per dollar on dining.

12. Uber Visa Card

The Uber Visa Card not only offers 4% cash back on dining purchases, including restaurants and bars, but it also has a lot going for it in terms of utility abroad thanks to its Visa network and no foreign transaction fees.

Uber Visa Card

  • Earn 4% cash back on dining purchases, including restaurants, takeout, bars, and UberEATS
  • Earn 3% cash back on hotel & airfare, 2% for online purchases
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases

If you’re not carrying a better travel card, the Uber Visa Card can also be a good choice for certain travel purchases, offering 3% cash back on hotels and airfare, including vacation home rentals.

Best “Entertainment Rewards” Cards to Use in Europe

Although there’s certainly plenty to see and do on a European trip without paying for entertainment, chances are you’ll want to hit at least one museum, theatrical production, or sporting event while you’re on vacation.

The cards in this category all offer bonus rewards for entertainment purchases, which can help you find a little more room in the budget for adding some extra culture — or just having a little more fun.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Capital One cardholders get access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 after that
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

This card is a great option for entertainment purchases, offering 4% cash back on everything from concerts and sporting events to museums and zoos. Plus, cardholders can also earn 4% cash back on dining and 2% cash back at grocery stores.

14. Citi Premier Card

If you don’t want to pay a big annual fee, the Citi Premier Card can be a good alternative to its more expensive sibling. It offers the same 2X ThankYou® Points for entertainment as the Prestige, with only a fraction of the annual fee.

Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

  • Earn 3X points per $1 spent on eligible travel purchases, including gas stations
  • Earn 2X points per $1 spent on dining out and entertainment
  • Pay no annual fee the first year, then $95

While the lower annual fee means you don’t receive the same fringe benefits — like the 4th Night Free promotion — you still pay no foreign transaction fees, and you’ll also enjoy 3X points per dollar on travel purchases, including gas.

15. Marvel Mastercard®

The Marvel Mastercard® also pairs dining and entertainment, offering 3% cash back for both categories. While you’ll be stuck paying a 3% foreign transaction fee, if you can pre-purchase your tickets in US currency, you can score a decent return.

 Marvel Mastercard®

  • Earn 3% cash back on dining, select entertainment, and eligible Marvel merchandise purchases
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Pay no annual fee

Unlike the Citi cards above, the Marvel card’s entertainment category excludes museums, art galleries, and sporting events from its bonus rewards. However, it does include movie theaters, theatrical and concert promoters, and amusement parks (including zoos and aquariums).

Best “Business” Cards to Use in Europe

Despite the focus on vacationers, of course, not everyone on their way to Europe is taking the trip for the sightseeing; business travelers spend millions of euros a year in European markets as they go about their, well, business.

On the plus side, while the business credit card market isn’t quite as flooded as the consumer market, there are still a number of great options for not only saving on your purchases in Europe, but on all of your qualifying business expenses.

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases - with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.99% - 22.99% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card has a ton of features that make it a great pick for your European purchases, including no foreign transaction fees, 3X Ultimate Rewards on the first $150,000 in bonus category purchases that includes travel, and a 25% redemption bonus for travel redeemed through the Chase portal.

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earning unlimited 2% cash back could mean thousands of dollars each year going back into your business
  • Earn up to $2,000. Earn a $500 cash bonus when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months and of opening your account
  • Plus, earn $1,500 when you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months. Limited Time Offer
  • Use Spark Cash across all your business spend, with no categories to limit your purchasing
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
18.74% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

With the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business, you’ll earn unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase, regardless of currency, with no foreign transaction fees. Plus, you can obtain rewards-earning employee cards at no additional cost, making it easy to track expenses while your employees conduct business abroad.

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.6/5.0
  • Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 12 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 12 months
15.24% - 21.24% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

The Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card is good for saving on business essentials no matter where you are thanks to no foreign transactions fees and rewards that include 5% cash back on up to $25,000 in office supply purchases and internet, cable, and phone services each year. Plus, earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 in annual dining and gas purchases.

Shop Like a Local with the Right Card

Whether you’re headed to Europe for the English castles, the French cheese, or just the chance to see a little history, a European vacation can definitely be well worth its usually-high price tag.

But you can also get even more value out of your trip with a little smart spending. Ensuring your go-to card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, for instance, can easily save you 2% to 4% on every European transaction.

And a good chip-and-PIN card can help you fit in and shop like a local by avoiding awkward moments hunting for a pen for your US chip-and-signature card (or, worse, missing a train because your card won’t work at the ticketing kiosk).

No matter which cards you decide to take with you on your trip, however, be sure you contact your credit card issuers before you leave to let them know you’ll be making purchases in another country. Without advanced notification, your card issuer may consider foreign purchases to be a sign of fraud and put a hold on your card — which can put a crimp in your vacation agenda.